By Isabel Travers, Senior Occupational Therapist
This year, Learning Disability week in Scotland will be held from the 16th-20th May with the theme of Celebrating Success. The premise is to highlight the achievements of people with Learning Disabilities. There are various events planned for the week to raise awareness of Learning Disabilities across Ayrshire and beyond.
On hearing the theme for this year the achievements of one young lady from Ayr came to mind whose successes in life should indeed be celebrated.
Fiona Dawson is a dynamic young lady with a learning disability and Down Syndrome, she lives with her mum in the family home Ayr but is keen to move to her own home as she states, ‘I’m 35 now so it’s about time’!
Fiona is a very busy lady working two afternoons a week, paid employment in a local shop and voluntary in an office. She is a competitive swimmer and training three nights a week between Prestwick Pool and the Citadel leisure centre. She also spends one afternoon week with a personal trainer.
Fiona has had an amazing year as part of the South Ayrshire Swim Team para squad who were recent finalists for the ‘activity in the community award’ in Ayrshire’s Sportsability Awards.
There are eight members of the team who compete regularly at a high level and have been hugely successful winning 10 gold, three silver and three bronze medals between them at three recent regional championships held in Glasgow.
Last year Fiona travelled to Italy for the Down’s Syndrome European Championships and returned with 11 medals, including three gold! In a recent competition held in Southampton she won a further two silver and a bronze medal.
Her next swimming challenge will be when travelling to Florence, Italy, in July as part of the GB team to compete in the Down Syndrome World Championships. She has also been selected to swim at the Special Olympics in 2017.
As if that wasn’t enough, she is currently developing her cooking and budgeting skills with Occupational Therapy in preparation for the move to her own home where I’m sure she will be as accomplished as she is in her sporting endeavours.
The secret of Fiona’s success; like every successful sportsperson, support and encouragement, natural aptitude, drive, ambition, resilience, determination and lots of hard work.
The aim of sharing Fiona’s story in this way is to hopefully challenge perceptions of people with a Learning Disability; highlighting just what can be achieved and the valuable contribution people with a learning disability can make to society as a whole.
A truly inspirational story!